On December 5, more than 150 Mercersburg students, faculty, staff, family members, and members of the greater Borough of Mercersburg community came together to wrap more than 1,500 presents for local children. The toy drive, which is known as Santa's Toy Box and organized by the Mercersburg Rotary Club, has been an annual event since the 1970s and provides gifts for area children who might not otherwise receive anything for Christmas.
The wrapping began at 7 p.m. in the fellowship hall/gymnasium of First United Methodist Church in Mercersburg, located down the street from the Academy campus. Once wrapped, the gifts are delivered to underprivileged children who live within the boundaries of the Tuscarora School District, which includes the Borough of Mercersburg.
The Academy's entire ninth-grade class, led by their senior Peer Group leaders, participates in the event along with numerous other volunteers from the student body. Faculty emeritus Ray Larson, who initially helped connect the Academy's Peer Groups with the Rotary Club for this event, says, "A while back, before we had an official community-service program at Mercersburg, the school was looking for community-service ideas. So, I brought the Peer Groups down to the Rotary Club to wrap gifts at Christmas time for Santa's Toy Box, and they just loved it. And now the Rotary Club depends on the students because they have so many gifts to wrap, and every year kids who have done it the previous year come back and do it again on their own. It's a really nice community activity for everybody."
David Bell, a longtime Academy teacher who is also a Mercersburg Rotary Club member, now helps organize the logistics of the evening each year. In addition to Bell and Larson, fellow faculty member Paul Galey, staff member Linda Hargrove, and emeritus faculty Karl Reisner are also Rotary members.
Bell and his wife, Julie, also help organize the Academy's Angel Tree program, which invites members of the Academy community to purchase a gift for an underprivileged child for Christmas. The tree, located near the library circulation desk in Lenfest Hall, is decorated with tags representing area children and a toy each child would like to receive. Last year, the Bells delivered approximately 125 Angel Tree gifts (for more than 70 children) to the Chambersburg office of the Salvation Army.
For more information or to contribute to the holiday efforts, contact David Bell or Tricia Crocker (the school's director of community engagement). A free-will offering to be collected at Mercersburg's Christmas Candlelight Services Sunday, December 16, will also support Santa's Toy Box.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center. Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 100 Academy Drive, Mercersburg, PA 17236 GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236 717-328-6173